Each day during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Canes Country recaps the night before, previews the games for that night (or would, if there were any), and gives you game times and broadcast information.
Washington Capitals 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 0 (WAS wins series 4-3)
It’s true: the Washington Capitals have finally gotten over the Eastern Conference hump and are headed to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1998.
With their 4-0 whitewashing of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and company have proven their naysayers wrong and took the final two contests of the Eastern Conference Final from the Lightning, both by shutout, while needing to win a Game 7 on the road - something they had done only once before in their history, in any round.
The Capitals performance featured all aspects of the typical Game 7 triumph. It started with the star of stars, Ovechkin, ripping a one-timer past Andrei Vasilevskiy just over a minute into the game to establish an early lead that would prove to be enough by itself by the end of the night. The whole night was owned by Braden Holtby, who stopped all 29 shots he faced in his second consecutive shutout. In all, the Lightning went scoreless for the final 159:27 of the series.
Lastly, Andre Burakovsky provided the unlikely bolts of energy as his two second period goals extended the lead for the Caps and made the mountain that much more difficult to climb. The evening was finished off with the battered, yet resilient Backstrom notching the empty-netter that provided the final margin of 4-0.
The energy, speed and physicality of the Capitals was evident from the beginning and the difference in energy was apparent throughout the contest. Once they gained their early lead, they provided excellent work in front of Holtby and anything that got through was cleaned up by the sharp netminder.
For the Lightning, allowing the early goal kept the crowd from getting into it, and the lack of offensive excitement didn’t allow for much energy to be generated by the home fans throughout the contest. The only rousing moment was a scrap between Tom Wilson and Braydon Coburn. While the Bolts possessed the most potent offense in the league during the regular season, their scoring drought that led to their demise is what will provide a sour taste in their mouth through the offseason.
The Capitals now head to the Stanley Cup Final, where they will have one more bridge to cross to reach hockey’s promised land. The series is set to begin on Monday night in Las Vegas, Nevada (yes, it is incredibly weird to type that still), as the Capitals will take on their former GM, George McPhee, and the Vegas Golden Knights.
Just a couple of links today:
- Adam Gold weighs in on the Chuck Kaiton situation. [WRALSportsFan]
- Will Scott Darling be back with the team next season? Don Waddell: “As of now, yes.” [News & Observer]
- Mike Vellucci said that he would rather coach than serve in a front office, and given the success of the Checkers this year, who could blame him? [Checkers]
- Justin Faulk, the Hurricanes’ NHLPA rep, will be in New York today for the Competition Committee meeting:
Representing NHL: Murray Edwards, David Poile, Ken Holland, Doug Wilson and Peter Chiarelli. Representing players: Mike Cammalleri, Justin Faulk, Cory Schneider, Kevin Shattenkirk and Daniel Winnik.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 23, 2018